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  1. #1

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    The Berklee $7,300,000 Zappa tribute band. When only these 29 students have completed four years at Berklee, they will have collectively paid $7,300,000 for their education. Enjoy the most expensive band that money can't buy.

    Am I wrong to be disturbed that this is the representation of the jazz economy where students pay institutions vs this money going to support working musicians? That money would equate to 7,300 gigs that paid $1000 to working jazz groups.

    So instead of only 29 Berklee students' expenses, how about all jazz students in US? That amount of money is so high that you might see how academia is a lucrative industry that soaks up most of the available money for the jazz economy. Is this justifiable, or just big business?

    Believe me folks, the money is there, but it doesn't go to support the artists. Academia prefers they get the money, like any other business would. They are not blind to what they are doing, and of course, most grads won't agree to any of this, because of human nature....

    Last edited by cosmic gumbo; 05-06-2019 at 04:12 PM.

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  3. #2
    So much bitterness against music education in this forum. What's the difference between this and any other field of education? Do you honestly believe that if someone today wants to pursue any music related profession there is a better way to do it other than studying music in the best college/University they can afford?
    Last edited by Alter; 05-06-2019 at 03:28 AM.

  4. #3

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    Quote Originally Posted by cosmic gumbo View Post
    The Berklee $7,300,000 Zappa tribute band. When only these 29 students have completed four years at Berklee, they will have collectively paid $7,3000,000 for their education. Enjoy the most expensive band that money can't buy.

    Am I wrong to be disturbed that this is the representation of the jazz economy where students pay institutions vs this money going to support working musicians? That money would equate to 7,300 gigs that paid $1000 to working jazz groups.

    So instead of only 29 Berklee students' expenses, how about all jazz students in US? That amount of money is so high that you might see how academia is a lucrative industry that soaks up most of the available money for the jazz economy. Is this justifiable, or just big business?

    Believe me folks, the money is there, but it doesn't go to support the artists. Academia prefers they get the money, like any other business would. They are not blind to what they are doing, and of course, most grads won't agree to any of this, because of human nature....

    I don’t think that’s how economics works.

  5. #4

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    The ensemble includes only ten Americans (if you open the clip in YouTube, you can see a list of all those involved). Among the many nations represented are six Italians, four Venezuelans, three Peruvians, an Australian on bass and a British drummer. This is typical of elite academic institutions in the global economy, which compete for the best students worldwide and charge them top dollar for their education.

  6. #5
    Most of them here will be on scholarships anyway..

  7. #6

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    This is like complaining that business schools charge a lot, but not everybody comes out to be the next Silicon Valley billionaire. Whaaaa. Plus - we could also point out that a lot of those guys are dropouts. (Gates, Dell, etc.) See - who needs school!?!?!?! It's so dumb!!

    And what about Med and Law school? They cost a bundle and not everyone turns out to be a top partner in a top surgical practice or a top partner in a scum sucking class action lawsuit firm. How unjust.

    If we want college to be affordable then the government has to pull waaaaaay back on loans. The more money the federal government throws into the education economy, the more the colleges charge. Has it gotten out of hand? Yes.

    So who's going to do something about it?

  8. #7

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    Of course, no one has addressed the real problem here. They're playing Zappa.

  9. #8

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    Wow, not my cup of tea..

  10. #9

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    As long as we're talking ' tribute bands ', what do you think it costs to fund this parade ? Let's see, 300 members, all full boat scholarships, instruments, transportation, uniforms, etc etc

    If Berklee's is $7.3 MM, this looks like, what, double that ??

  11. #10

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    High School Teacher here.

    So I'm supposed to tell everyone "go to college."

    I guess. But you gotta be smart. If there's something that your degree will allow you to do that you will not be able to do without it--by all means, go, and take it seriously, and my best to you. I knew I wanted to teach high school, so that required a degree and a teaching certificate. No other way to do it.

    The problem with music school is the "jazz performance major." Let's face it kids, the best of the best never graduate Berklee...

    So then you're left with this...what do you hope to do after? If it's perform jazz, well then what school are you going to? Are you creating a network for yourself so that when you do graduate, you know people you can play with? Are you going to school in a place with an actual jazz scene so that AS you are in school, local players can hear you?

    In this case, you have to not look at the piece of paper really. You don't take your diploma to the local club and get a gig. So what are you getting in the process of earning that diploma?

    And for the love of God, unless you like teaching, please don't just teach as a fallback. Please. So many failed players out there who are fulfilling the "those who couldn't, ended up teaching."

    And most of 'em can't teach either.
    Last edited by mr. beaumont; 05-06-2019 at 01:04 PM.
    Jeff Matz, Jazz Guitar:
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    "Jazz is like life...it goes on longer than you think, and as soon as you're like 'oh, I get it,' it ends."

    --The Ghost of Duke Ellington

  12. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jazzstdnt View Post
    Of course, no one has addressed the real problem here. They're playing Zappa.
    Well for the modern Berklee student Weather Report has insufficient statistical density.

  13. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77 View Post
    Well for the modern Berklee student Weather Report has insufficient statistical density.
    wut
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  14. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by cosmic gumbo View Post

    Am I wrong to be disturbed that this is the representation of the jazz economy where students pay institutions vs this money going to support working musicians? That money would equate to 7,300 gigs that paid $1000 to working jazz groups.
    you say folks shouldn't invest money in their own education but rather spend it partying at my gigs? i'm all for it!

  15. #14

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    Jazz performance is now a product of academia, and it is a total economic failure.

  16. #15

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    cosmic gumbo - You are a sharp guy. Do you see anything wrong with the number $7,3000,000 in the 2nd sentence of your OP?

  17. #16

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    Quote Originally Posted by Alter View Post
    Most of them here will be on scholarships anyway..
    Most will be paying full fees. That is how the college makes its money.

  18. #17
    Smaller colleges yes, but Berklee gives a ton of scholarships, especially to foreign students. It is a PR thing, and an investment for them. When I was there, practically every decent foreign student had at least a part time scholarship. Most of the better players from the years I was there have done a lot music wise since. Lage Lund, Lionel Lueke, Kendrick Scott, Walter Smith, Peter Slavov, Mamiko Watanabe, Gus G, Warren Wolf, Marco Panascia, Jaleel Shaw, Mark Kelly, so many others I can't remember now. Pretty much the 5-10 best players in every instrument have records to their name and a strong carrier going. That's a big percentage if you consider that there weren't more than 3-4 hundred students doing performance studies, and most of them left the states afterwards. Almost everyone I knew that was serious about playing then still performs music for a living today, almost 20 years later.

  19. #18

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    Well when my mate Joe was there he said it was full of Scots.

  20. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77 View Post
    Well when my mate Joe was there he said it was full of Scots.

    translation for us Yankees please?

  21. #20

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    Quote Originally Posted by cosmic gumbo View Post
    Jazz performance is now a product of academia, and it is a total economic failure.
    I don't know if it's total but yeah, it's pretty thin. Of note, Carla Bley was saying that unless one was Miles or Trane there were no gigs in Manhattan - in the mid 60s. The Beatles and all...

    So maybe Miles was wise to head in the.... um... directions of rock and funk.

    But back to your other point. If all jazz performance has now is academia, why kick academia in the nads? Following your line of reasoning, if it didn't have academia it wouldn't exist at all. Is that your preference?

  22. #21

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jazzstdnt View Post
    translation for us Yankees please?
    I think it translates to WASPs.
    Jeff Matz, Jazz Guitar:
    http://www.youtube.com/user/jeffreymatz

    "Jazz is like life...it goes on longer than you think, and as soon as you're like 'oh, I get it,' it ends."

    --The Ghost of Duke Ellington

  23. #22

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jazzstdnt View Post
    I don't know if it's total but yeah, it's pretty thin. Of note, Carla Bley was saying that unless one was Miles or Trane there were no gigs in Manhattan - in the mid 60s. The Beatles and all...

    So maybe Miles was wise to head in the.... um... directions of rock and funk.

    But back to your other point. If all jazz performance has now is academia, why kick academia in the nads? Following your line of reasoning, if it didn't have academia it wouldn't exist at all. Is that your preference?
    Of course, it's up to Cosmic Gumbo to speak for himself. But I would suggest that yes, the academic influence has contributed to the decline of jazz both in quality and popularity. Certainly not technical expertise. But I think one needs to be able to dance to the music, snap their fingers or tap their feet in enjoyment and appreciation. In other words, jazz must swing to be appreciated by more than a hard core. An academic approach generally is antithetical to this, in my view.

  24. #23

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    Quote Originally Posted by Phil59 View Post
    Of course, it's up to Cosmic Gumbo to speak for himself. But I would suggest that yes, the academic influence has contributed to the decline of jazz both in quality and popularity. Certainly not technical expertise. But I think one needs to be able to dance to the music, snap their fingers or tap their feet in enjoyment and appreciation. In other words, jazz must swing to be appreciated by more than a hard core. An academic approach generally is antithetical to this, in my view.
    OK. Fair enough.

    But - I double dog dare you to support that, going back to the 40's and doing a walk forward.

    And as you go, please remember Bebop, Elvis, Bob Dylan, The Beatles, Stones, and the entire 60's era hippie bands - then disco, rap, hip-hop.....

    And then explain to me how Jerry Coker, David Baker, Dan Haerle, UNT, Berklee, Howard Roberts, Jamie Aebersold, etc, destroyed jazz. In other words, names that people would respond to with "huh?" "who?", "what?" "never heard of him", "seems very obscure", etc.

    Go on please. Can't wait.

  25. #24

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    There's a lot to unpack here....

    So I think jazz musicians sometimes make the assumption that they are affected uniquely by the general decline in the popularity of live music. Possibly the last time they looked over the fence, rock musicians were raking in royalties and splurging money on huge tours... While this may still be true of the Rolling Stones, ask any young musician trying to get a foothold in the modern music industry and you are going to hear some similar stories.

    Live music is not longer a big thing... It's all video games and youtube now. Even the popular musicians are the ones that are best at youtube, or writing music for video games...

    And where do these musicians learn their craft these days? Well, at places like Berklee... The $7,300,000 Berklee Zappa covers band is not just an animal of the jazz world.

    In fact in some ways jazz, with it's patina of respectability, may actually be better placed to weather the changes, like classical music...

    Anyway, jazz is largely an umbrella term for non-classical instrumental music these days (as most good non-classical musicians study jazz to some degree, I suppose). For instance, Ben Monder can play his original harmonically complex, non-improvised, non swinging music that borrows as much, if not more, from modern classical as the jazz tradition and still get labelled as jazz. I think increasingly the term is divorced from generic expectations.

    Anyway from the point of economics, supply of super talented musicians has probably never been higher, and demand has probably never been lower. But there is demand in the educational sector, so there you go.

    The artform's problem is IMO that a lot of these talented musicians never have enough of a chance to play for normal people regularly, so lack that essential skill of communicating beyond their community.

    Also, they are unlikely to be cool. Jazz used to be cool. When it lapses back into fashion it's usually because of some cool people, be it the Young Lions, or Thundercat or Snarky or whatever. Thundercat might not look like my Gen X idea of cool, but referencing Dragonball Z in your lyrics is now apparently, cool.

  26. #25
    I would agree with that. Berklees guitar program is not so much about jazz, unless you choose to go towards that, but more about modern guitar and music. It's pretty diverse, and I really like the fact that they try to organize it so you learn the most necessary things, in the simplest way possible.

  27. #26

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    Quote Originally Posted by Alter View Post
    I would agree with that. Berklees guitar program is not so much about jazz, unless you choose to go towards that, but more about modern guitar and music. It's pretty diverse, and I really like the fact that they try to organize it so you learn the most necessary things, in the simplest way possible.
    Well I work with a guy who was at Berklee (only for a year) and he credits their teaching with making him the (killer) player he is today.

    This surprised me because UK college grads are often very lukewarm about the quality of the teaching, perhaps singling a couple of classes out for praise.

  28. #27

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    Do they have a class there where someone teaches how the old players used to think, e.g. Barry Harris style? Just so they could compare and contrast, or do they double down on teaching "their" way?
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  29. #28

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    Groan. Looks like a high school band production where everybody gets to play, except these are all the good kids. Except when they graduate, there won't be any gigs like this.

    For comparison, Princeton has an active jazz program, I've gone to a couple of concerts recently. Again, the music they're playing, well, there just aren't many bands or places to play music like that, even in NYC.

    Princeton costs just a bit more than Berklee, but I don't think the kids who are participating in the jazz bands are doing it with a career in mind. When they graduate- hey, they went to Princeton, they can go work at a hedge fund or something.

  30. #29

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    Been to college 4 times--two undergrad degrees, and two grad degrees--none of them music--math, engineering, management, and secondary education.

    So I can tell you this: The job of the school is to get your there and keep you there.

    Your job is to figure out what you have, and what to do with what you have after you leave.

    It always amazes me how many students are great at doing the school's job, but never get around to doing their job.

    So if you get the 4-year Jazz Performance degree, you're gonna be a competent Jazz musician, but will you still need a day job? If so, what's your minor? Maybe get the teaching credential? CPA? Something other than the music maybe? Something to fall back on if you find yourself not suddenly a "first call musician?"

  31. #30

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    Quote Originally Posted by JGinNJ View Post
    Princeton costs just a bit more than Berklee, but I don't think the kids who are participating in the jazz bands are doing it with a career in mind. When they graduate- hey, they went to Princeton, they can go work at a hedge fund or something.
    Bet the guitarists own a lot of sweet PRS guitars.
    Build bridges, not walls.

  32. #31

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    Since I and my kids are out of college, I can't quite get up a strong opinion one way or the other, except about the high cost of education in general. Back in my day a kid could work in summers and parttime while a college student and earn enough to pay full tuition at a state school. That's not the case anymore. (My kids' tuition at state schools in MN and WI was ~$14K a year--not including room and board.)

    As far as music education, it is what it is. If people want to pay for it, who are we to criticize? It would be nice to see some statistics on what percentage of Berklee grads have a career in music, but really it's irrelevant. It's like asking what percentage of fine arts majors at Princeton have a career in fine arts. Who cares except maybe their rich parents who foot the bill?

    I didn't find the performance above too bad, though of course they're no Mothers. But then they didn't have the benefit of hundreds of live shows and Frank browbeating them for weeks on end to get a performance right.
    “Without music, life would be a mistake”--Friedrich Nietzsche

    Current lineup: Gibson ES-135 ('02), Peerless Sunset, Harmony Brilliant Cutaway ('64), Godin 5th Avenue, Alvarez AC60 A/E classical, Kay K37 ('56), Fender Squier VM Jazz bass, several ukes. Amps: Fishman Artist, Fender SCXD, Pignose 7-100.

  33. #32

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    Quote Originally Posted by BigDaddyLoveHandles View Post
    Bet the guitarists own a lot of sweet PRS guitars.
    lol, You can bet on it.

    Apparently just about everybody at Berklee Online does too, but then most students are between 35-75. A couple of guys played different guitars in almost every weekly lesson and "sweet" PRS models were well represented.

  34. #33

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    Quote Originally Posted by mr. beaumont View Post
    And for the love of God, unless you like teaching, please don't just teach as a fallback. Please. So many failed players out there who are fulfilling the "those who couldn't, ended up teaching."

    And most of 'em can't teach either.
    A thousand times yes! As a special education teacher who loves teaching as much as he loves music, it offends me to hear of teaching "as a fallback".

    I had a private teacher who was a metal head burn out. He tried to teach me to sight read, and nothing else. That mf'er made me quit guitar when I was 13, I didn't pick it up again until I was almost 17 (and I started at 11--with a good teacher, but I moved out of the city).

    I know several amazing music teachers. Let me just say this, since I've taught 5th through 12th grade, teaching music is really hard. Teaching music so that you inspire kids to study it on their own, that's even harder. Teaching privately is difficult, but nothing compares to trying to get a group of 5th graders to play their instruments together--that takes skill and a crap load of patience.

    And, to add to that, you have to be a good musician to be a great music teacher. All my friends who teach music know their stuff on their primary instrument and then they had to learn all the other families.

    So let's stop this nonsense of "if you can't make it in music, teach"

    How about "if you want to perform all the time--great" but "if you want to teach because that's what you love and you also love music--great as well"

    Let me add more.

    Every person that I studied with was an amazing musician in their own right.

    You know what they all shared, because being great musicians who've play with the greats?

    They all loved to teach as well, and they took their lessons very seriously.

    Shout out to Kenny Wessel, one of the best private teachers I've ever studied with--he's one of the best teachers in NYC. Kenny got me started with jazz guitar:



    So let's not sully education by saying "those that can't make it should teach"

    We already have enough people throwing stones at education.

    ***cough, cough*** Rick Beato
    Last edited by Irez87; 05-07-2019 at 10:12 PM.

  35. #34

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    So many guitar teachers suck. Just cuz you know how to play doesn't mean you know how to teach. They are two totally different things..

  36. #35

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    Quote Originally Posted by cosmic gumbo View Post
    So many guitar teachers suck. Just cuz you know how to play doesn't mean you know how to teach. They are two totally different things..
    Exactly!

    I was lucky, most of the guys I studied with were good teachers (except for that metal head burn out bastid)

  37. #36

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jazzstdnt View Post
    translation for us Yankees please?
    People from Scotland, like Annie Ross or Jim Mullen.

  38. #37

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    Quote Originally Posted by dickbanks View Post
    Your job is to figure out what you have, and what to do with what you have after you leave.
    I graduated for the third time last week – PhD, architectural history. What I have is a huge debt. I would not wish a stay at a modern corporate university on any young person; it is about exploitation, not education. But it is now virtually impossible for anybody to go anywhere without a degree. If you want to play jazz, music school is where you get your chops and your contacts.

  39. #38

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    An economics degree will ensure that you're bored stiff at work every day, but it puts food on the table. Every year that passes the bored stiff part bothers me less.


    My chops suck, but my PRS sure is sweet

    It's all a risk vs. reward consideration. If you want excitement then you have to risk more, while other venues offer much less risk, but a pretty dull life too. Going to music school is the exciting way to life your life. ... Letting passion rule. (at least I hope it is, if you just want to nerd stuff then there are more profitable things to nerd)

  40. #39

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    Quote Originally Posted by Lobomov View Post
    An economics degree will ensure that you're bored stiff at work every day, but it puts food on the table. Every year that passes the bored stiff part bothers me less.


    My chops suck, but my PRS sure is sweet

    It's all a risk vs. reward consideration. If you want excitement then you have to risk more, while other venues offer much less risk, but a pretty dull life too. Going to music school is the exciting way to life your life. ... Letting passion rule. (at least I hope it is, if you just want to nerd stuff then there are more profitable things to nerd)
    You can be bored stiff playing music professionally too.

  41. #40

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    So what's a non-boring job? My job swings directly from boredom to terror.
    Build bridges, not walls.

  42. #41

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    Quote Originally Posted by BigDaddyLoveHandles View Post
    So what's a non-boring job? My job swings directly from boredom to terror.
    A bit like a pit orchestra gig

  43. #42

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    Quote Originally Posted by Alter View Post
    So much bitterness against music education in this forum. What's the difference between this and any other field of education? Do you honestly believe that if someone today wants to pursue any music related profession there is a better way to do it other than studying music in the best college/University they can afford?

    music-related profession? maybe, but not to be a performer. going to Berklee for a year or two for networking and being discovered is the norm among those top-echelon players. the rest are wasting time and money unless they want to teach.

  44. #43

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    I think it's worth mentioning that not everybody goes to Berklee for jazz performance. I know a young couple that met at Berklee, they were in music ed. They're into roots/acoustic music. Now they own a school/small performance space. None of my business, but I think they must have family backing.

  45. #44

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    Quote Originally Posted by BigDaddyLoveHandles View Post
    So what's a non-boring job? My job swings directly from boredom to terror.
    A lion tamer!

  46. #45

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    When I see these numbers where people are paying north of $5,000/year for to be educated in jazz I do give my head a scratch. That would equate to about 80 or 90 lessons a year with a top flight private jazz teacher here in Canada. With that you would get a one on one learning experience and, if the teacher is good, some tailored curriculum. Of course, it would be impossible to do that many lessons in a year and absorb it. You could probably do 40 tops and have tons to work on If you are dedicated and good your teacher will probably help you find gigs and people to play with eventually.

    My gut feeling is that the value in the college experience comes from being surrounded by other learning musicians and getting to jam with them in combos with an instructor. I was at Humber College in Toronto in the 80s and it had a great reputation for jazz education. That said, the only memorable part for me was the 3 hour Monday, Wednesday, Friday combo run by Ron Collier. He didn't show for a third of the combos but we played anyway and had fun and learned. But... if we had available regular jam sessions we could have learned just as well without the need to lay out of $5K plus a year.

    I have to agree with some of the pessimistic views of academia as it relates to music. I sometimes think it is where music goes to die after it has been dissected, codified and packaged into a "learning product"™. This is not a critique of teachers at all... I have more respect for them than any corporate lawyer, business person, plastic surgeon, politician etc but it is directed to the business that academia has become.

  47. #46

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    Such a jaundiced view of education here. Whatever happened to studying something because it interests you?

    I suppose taking joy in education is a decadent notion from a bygone age and now all we are meant to be interested in are job opportunities.

  48. #47

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    It's possible to do both. People can't seem to get that through their heads though.

    There's a real problem with the way education is viewed in America today. Heck--there's plenty of people here who think education at our nation's Universities only serves as an indoctrination into the radical left.

    An uneducated populace is easier to control though.
    Jeff Matz, Jazz Guitar:
    http://www.youtube.com/user/jeffreymatz

    "Jazz is like life...it goes on longer than you think, and as soon as you're like 'oh, I get it,' it ends."

    --The Ghost of Duke Ellington

  49. #48

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    Quote Originally Posted by Roberoo View Post
    When I see these numbers where people are paying north of $5,000/year for to be educated in jazz I do give my head a scratch.
    Me, too, cuz that's peanuts! Just what is Berklee's tuition?

    That Berklee-Zappa medley? They should have done...

    Build bridges, not walls.

  50. #49

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    Just go see Zappa plays Zappa

  51. #50

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    You know Zappa, the enthusiastic capitalist who raison d’etre was to produce more work (and enjoy a comfortable family life) because it ... y’know .... interested him?

    I have to say intuitively I doubt the music education system could produce another Zappa. It’s not talent per se ... it comes from something else. Zappa came from nowhere.

    So Gumbo has something of a point in there, I feel.... the college system probably filters for certain types of individual.